Map: Syria in c. 30 BC

Syria 200BC – 30BC


In the past two centuries,[1] the power of the Seleucid kings declined, eventually finished off by the Roman conquest of the region by their general, Pompey the Great (64-63 BC). Syria now formed the eastern frontier of the Roman empire, facing the Parthian empire.[2]

The Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes (reigned 175-164 BC), inflicted one of the most traumatic episodes on the Jews when he tried to impose Hellenistic culture – including its paganism – on them, sometimes with great brutality. This attempt backfired, leading to the successful rebellion of the Jews against Seleucid rule, under the Maccabees brothers and the founding of an independent Jewish state in 141 BC. This lasted until the Roman conquest. Instead of governing the area directly, the Romans have given it to one of their main allies in the region, Herod (“the Great”) to rule.

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